by DAVID WINSTON January 19, 2017
Late-deciding voters did not care about the same things the media cared about. . . (A)n analysis of the national exit polls and a post-election “Winning the Issues” survey, done by the Winston Group on Election Night before the results were known, should put to rest the question of whether James Comey or Vladimir Putin tipped the scales against Secretary Clinton. The answer is no, and that conclusion isn’t speculation. It’s based solely on data.
To determine what issues were most important in driving voter decision-making, especially with late deciders, we tested a range of major policy issues, asking voters to rank them on a one-to-nine scale in terms of how important each was to their decision-making. We also included issues that dominated the news throughout the campaign, especially into the fall, . . . Not surprisingly, both partisan bases showed more interest in these issues, but even with the bases, none of these “scandal” issues placed in the top five. Most important, independents put these issues at the bottom of their rankings. And this is where the media made another major miscalculation that continues today. For voters in the political center, . . . the economy and jobs issue drove the election. It was not outside political forces, foreign or domestic.. What really happened in the 2016 election . . . begins with understanding that . . . a significant number of voters, about one in five, had a negative opinion of both candidates. . . What mattered more however. . . was the context in which those voters who had a negative opinion of both would decide. . . As a result, the election models, which were driving media narratives, proved unreliable. . .
On Election Day, much to the surprise of the political elite, Trump won the election, in large part because these unhappy voters who disliked both candidates broke his way by 17 points nationally. In the Rust Belt States of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the trend was even more pronounced. . .
The numbers show that this late shift was enough to change the outcome of Michigan, where he was tied, and Wisconsin, where he was down two points going into the last week. Despite Clinton’s lead in national polls up to the last weekend, the traditional Democratic coalition in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin was in trouble as frustrated voters, who felt left behind economically, struggled with their choice. It came down to which candidate they believed would bring real change.
So what drove undecided voters, especially those with negative views of both candidates, to choose Trump? Ultimately, for 39 percent of the electorate, a significant number, it came down to which candidate they believed would bring real change. Of those who decided in the last month, that number increased to 46 percent. . . Overall, Trump won these change voters by an astonishing 82–14 margin nationally, and reaching 84 percent in the Rust Belt. What was behind this desire for change? As it has been for the last four elections, jobs and the economy were the top issue in both the exit polls and in the “Winning the Issues” survey. . .
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the Rust Belt states with three key demographic groups that historically have been part of the Democrats’ coalition: union members, people earning less than $50,000, and people with less than a college education. . . . Overall, these results generated an outcome not seen since Reagan’s win in 1984: a Republican presidential candidate carrying Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The bottom line is that people were unhappy with the direction of the country. They wanted someone to rock the boat. Trump promised a different future focused on the economy and jobs; Clinton represented the status quo.
— David Winston is the president of The Winston Group and for over a decade has advised the House and Senate Republican leadership.
Much as I suspected all along, the issue wasn’t personality, morality, ethics, even legality!!! It was JOBS & THE ECONOMY! The liars have been lying about how great things are, but it isn’t being experienced in the REAL economy, where the cost of hamburger vs. take home pay drama happens every week. Covering the gap with food stamps doesn’t a regular person feel any better about their lot in life! Maybe even worse!!
Neither candidate was “likable”. Both were deeply flawed! One offered a stirring endorsement of maintaining the status quo, and the other offered dramatic change!
It REALLY IS as simple as that!